The key accused in the last month’s Aligarh hooch incident, which has claimed at least 35 lives so far, was arrested in the early hours of Sunday, police said.
Accused Rishi Sharma, who carried a reward of Rs 1 lakh on his arrest, was held near Bulandshahr border in western Uttar Pradesh, Aligarh Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Kalanidhi Naithani said.
Rishi Sharma, whom the police described as the kingpin of the liquor mafia, was named in 13 different cases connected to the recent liquor tragedy and was arrested this morning on the Aligarh-Bulandshshar border as he was about to slip out of the district after being holed up in his hideouts since the past nine days.
On Saturday, the police had raised the bounty on Rishi Sharma from Rs 75,000 to Rs 1 lakh.
His wife, son, two brothers, and a nephew were arrested in the last five days.
The search for Rishi Sharma was extended to half a dozen neighbouring states and several districts, where he had his network.
The police were tracking over 500 cell phone numbers belonging to his close circle. Police were tipped off on Saturday night that Rishi Sharma would be travelling to Bulandshshar in an SUV.
He was arrested in his vehicle, which was carrying a large cache of spurious liquor, police said.
Nearly 50 people have died in Aligarh since consuming spurious liquor on two different occasions recently, according to police, while officials estimated that the death count could go up to 100 as autopsy reports of another 50 hooch consumers were awaited.
“In a major breakthrough in the hooch incident, a key accused and Rs 1 lakh rewarded Rishi Sharma has been arrested from near Bulandshahr border,” Kalanidhi Naithani said.
“Earlier, the police had arrested accused Vipin Yadav, with Rs 50,000 reward on his arrest, and Rishi Sharma’s brother Munish Sharma carrying a bounty of Rs 25,000 in this case,” the Senior Superintendent of Police said.
The district police chief said so far 17 FIRs have been lodged and 61 accused arrested in Aligarh over the deaths of people after consuming spurious liquor.
Multiple police teams, he said, have carried out investigation and searches in six states since the case came to light while a crackdown on the liquor mafia also started in Aligarh.
Nine people died after consuming spurious liquor found dumped in a canal near Rohera village in the Jawan area, officials said on Friday.
Another man died on Friday in Aligarh’s Kodiyagunj village and officials link it with the same stock of liquor found in the canal near Rohera village on June 2 by some brick kiln workers.
The 10 fatalities are apart from people killed in the first tragedy which broke out on May 28, in which 35 people are confirmed to have died of liquor poisoning.